This spring the Orleans County Historical Society is planning to build a replica of the old timber frame barn that used to stand next to the Old Stone House. The new barn will be used to exhibit antique farm equipment.
An archaeological survey last summer indicated that the original barn was built about the same time of the Old Stone House – 1836. The barn was connected to the stone dormitory by a small shed that entered through the root cellar, where buckets of cold milk could be kept cool. A door from the root cellar entered the back of the kitchen. We know from journals of students that they were encouraged to bring a cow or chickens with them to school to help feed everyone, and save money on board.
The old “unsightly barn” was removed in 1924, according to minutes of the Orleans County Historical Society. To save the old stone dormitory of the first secondary school in the county from being taken down by a railroad bridge building company for the granite blocks, the Orleans County Historical Society had incorporated in 1916 to raise the $500 to purchase the building. They worked hard to restore the four story granite block building both inside and outside, and then filled it with artifacts to open as a museum of Orleans County history in 1925. They didn’t need the adjacent barn, which was also in disrepair, and the easiest thing to do was remove it. Oddly enough, the barn stood from 1836 to 1924 – 88 years – and has been gone from 1924 to 2012 – 88 years. We propose to rebuild the barn as much like the original as we can determine from old photographs and foundation remains.
The Old Stone House Museum needs more space now to display farm equipment currently in storage. We currently have farm equipment and tools displayed in the Lawrence Barn, but it is so crowded that pieces cannot be seen from all angles, and we also need to make room for new acquisitions, so that we can better tell the story of agriculture in Orleans County. The old farmers who could help us with the exhibit are getting on in years, and we’d like their help with our exhibit, so we need to move quickly.
The Old Stone House Farm Museum Fund was started by a generous bequest of $60,000 from Jessie Mitchell, who with her husband W.S. Mitchell ran a farm equipment store in Newport for many years. The Preservation Trust of Vermont is giving us another $25,000. We have raised more money from stage coach rides at Old Stone House Day and sleigh rides at our Kitchen Junket. We are soliciting more donations to pay for the barn construction and also the outreach educational program about the barn that we are taking out to elementary schools in April.
The new barn will be built with a lot of community involvement. The North Country Union High School Career Center Timber Harvesting Class has cut and milled the timbers. The Building and Trades Class will learn about timber framing from an instructor hired by the museum, and notch some of the timbers. The upper grade elementary school children made the pegs in April. The museum will have a stone foundation built in early May. Then the Building and Trades Class will come lay the deck. From June 1 – 10, the International Timber Framers Guild will have a gathering here and finish notching the frame, then organize the barn raising on Saturday, June 9. We will push the frame up with pikes with the help of a lot of volunteers. Later in June a cedar shingle roof will be put on and the building sided and windows installed.
Come to the Barn Raising on June 9!
Follow this link to see an interview of the Museum Director Peggy Day Gibson and Education Coordinator Susanna Bowman on Vermont Voice by Scott Wheeler.